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The Bear & Cub timber sales: Old growth islands surrounded by clearcuts & tree farms

The Bear and Cub timber sales threaten to take out more old growth forest in the Mt. Hood national forest. The targetted units are lonely islands of green vibrancy surrounded by a spaghetti network of roads and acres of clearcuts and plantations. I visited units of both sales this last weekend during the Cascadia Forest Alliance action camp.

The "Bear" and "Cub" timber sales are located in the southern part of the Mt. Hood national forest, only a short drive from Breitenbush.

Below, you can see two units of the cub sale. They are isolated patches of old growth surrounded by a spaghetti of logging roads and acres of clearcuts and plantations. The borders of these sales are easy to see -- just look for the only big trees left.

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Only a few steps into the units, the air is cooler, and the energy completely different. Here is life. The tree plantations outside feel like farmers' fields in comparison. Note the trees marked with orange paint -- they are the ones marked to "save". Unfortunately, most trees left in isolation after a cut, surrounded by slash and exposed to the sun and wind, die within a few seasons.

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The lushness of the air here is difficult to describe; i'll say though, that i found myself taking a deep breath and feeling like i hadn't done so in the city in months.

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Part of the stand of trees containing cub will not be cut in order to preserve "wildlife habitat". Of course, habitat of this quality has already been reduced to such small, disconnected areas that set-asides like this are almost meaningless. Note also the designation "partial cut", which in this case will mean everything but about five trees per acre that will all likely die soon anyway. Forest Service doublespeak = despicable lies.

The Forest Service describes the "Purpose & Need" of these timber sales thus: "The project area contains stands which are growing slowly, are diseased and are exposed to repeated storm events which continually damage trees and blow them down." "The objective of the project is to regenerate stands by removing most of the trees and preparing the site for planting. This conversion would result in young productive stands which are capable of growth commensurate with the site's potential." The local watchdog group Bark comments: "What this argument states is that old growth forest areas grow slowly. Therefore we should cut older forests down and plant young trees that grow quickly. This values forests only for their use for timber production." Indeed. These sales are nothing but the subjugation of nature to greed.

When a forest is clearcut, the destruction of trees is the most obvious to our eyes, but many other plants are also killed. If they are not trampled by loggers and their equipment, they die when exposed to the hot sun. How many thousands of flowers will wilt and expire when bear and cub are cut? What effects will that have? Starting with the bees that collect pollen and the insects or animals that eat the flowers, the effects will reverberate through the ecosystem like the sound of the saws.

Here is a view of two of the units of the Cub sale. They are up on a ridge, with a road running through the middle. Note how everything else around them has been cut already.

The road itself is a clearcut, too. Everything gets wiped out and buried under a layer of rocks and gravel when a road is built. Some of these roads are designated "temporary", but their effects are long-lasting, and include water-degradation (due to erosion), habitat destruction (culverted streams, whatever was living in those trees is now homeless), wildlife disconnection (grazing/hunting areas are split up) and increased fire danger (sun-baked undergrowth, exposed slash). Plus, there's just the sound of feet on gravel, which doesn't belong in the forest. This makes wildlife skittish, and breaks the sacredness of the quiet that sings under the canopy normally.

Walking by the cuts and plantations around these units, under the hot sun, i felt like i was in the desert in the southwest, not in what should be a forest in the northwest. i found myself filled with tremendous sadness and anger. Who the fuck gave the Forest Service permission to destroy these beautiful places, at taxpayer expense, so that lumber companies could make profit? The timber sale program feeds a tyranny of the few and the powerful against the many and the indefensible.

If you want to help save Bear and Cub, or fight against the timber sale program, contact the Cascadia Forest Alliance (education and direct action) or Bark (education, lawsuits, surveying/ground-truthing, sale-tracking). Bark also leads monthly hikes to threatened areas and has a show on public access television. And of course, Cascadia Summer is underway, offering many opportunities to defend the forest. See you in the woods!

Can Bark use these photos? 06.Jun.2003 08:12

Sarah sarahw@bark-out.org

Can Bark post these photos and captions to Bark's Bear-Cub website?  http://www.bark-out.org/tsdb/detail.php?sale=bearcub